Two of the “Junkiest” Cities in America!

01Jun10

Be proud, Rhode Island, be proud.

Two cities in RI, Woonsocket and Central Falls made the list of the seven cities in America whose bond rating is now “junk”.  This is according to a report on CNNMoney.com.  The other five cities are Harrisburg, PA, Detroit and Pontiac, MI, Harvey, IL and Littlefield, TX.

So how about that, RI gets national acclaim for two of its cities being irresponsible with its debt.  We’ve seen much of what’s going on in Central Falls already with the school system, and we’ve seen the allegations of corruption in the Mayor’s office.  I guess what is most surprising is that he still wins elections even with the city in this much disarray.   But then again, maybe this is why the city is in such bad shape, because of the usual RI mentality of people “taking care” of each other in the city.  Would even voter fraud be surprising in Central Falls?  Of course not.  Especially not when you have the chief of police (who directly reports to the mayor) campaigning around the city for the mayor.

As for Woonsocket?  That’s a different story.  They’re starting fresh with a new mayor there.  The previous mayor, Susan Menard was there for many years and rarely, if ever, raised taxes.  Woonsocket, like Central Falls, also gets a great deal of their school department paid for by the state, usually in the area of 75%.  How about that, Barrington?  Usually you get nothing back from the state and instead, you’re supporting a school system and a city who doesn’t even raise their taxes to keep up with the raises given out.

In my opinion, Woonsocket should just go back to their old business roots of the 1800s.  Don’t worry about actually having residents, but instead try to go back to the manufacturing days and try to encourage any and every business who’d want to relocate there.  Let them have their dirt cheap tax rate as any tax income is better than none.  Plus, businesses don’t usually use the school system and rarely use other services that a town provides.  Emphasize the location and the history of being a business-minded center.  Heck, if you really need to have something attractive, then really clean up the area around the Stadium Theatre and make a nice district of theatre, movies, retail, dining with a big and free parking lot for people to use.  Have art and music nights in the summer to draw the people out.  Have your own restaurant week.  Anything to draw people into the city to spend money.

As for the two cities, in the short term, I’m much more hopeful for Woonsocket as they seem to have much better leadership in place with new mayor Leo Fontaine, as opposed to CF’s Charles Moreau.  The latter has the possibility of being led out of City Hall in handcuffs.

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